Monday, August 30, 2010

Africa Addio (1966)

Africa Addio: The Director's Cut

Written and Directed by Gualtiero Jacopetti & Franco E. Prosperi

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen. The mother of all Mondo movies. It seems that in the mid-sixties, Africa was in a state of serious social change and a couple of very brave filmmakers decided to fly on over and capture it all for posterity, so that when the New Africa took over they could look back at what the Old Africa was once like.

And it's all here for your viewing pleasure, although maybe pleasure isn't quite the word for it. Shock. Appall. Disbelief. These are more suitable terms. Caught on tape are vicious scenes of military involvement, war, crime and murder of all kinds. In most cases, the filmmakers were careful to capture both sides of the story without glorification or bias. You witness horrendous crimes committed by individuals and then you see those individuals on trial. You see “civilized” man hunt for game and then you see tribal men hunt for food. You see poachers killing protected animals for profit and then you see their capture by the police and the surviving animals nursed back to health by wildlife officials.

Make note that the version I'm reviewing is the unedited Director's Cut and not the shortened and censored Americanized version (which I haven't seen.) That being said, this film is not for everyone. Children and the squeamish should avoid this at all costs. If you can't stand the sight of blood, animal mutilations, death and executions, or corpses of all kinds—men, women and children—don't even think of popping this into your player.

After seeing a number of supposedly-real-but-actually-badly-staged Mondo films, I went into this with a bit of hesitation despite the reports I had heard this one was genuine. The reports were accurate, this one is all real. And all disturbing. But, also unlike most other Mondos, Africa Addio plays it straight as a genuine documentary and stays away from the exploitative (except for the inexplicable beach scenes thrown somewhere in the middle, presumably to break up the tension. Those were just bouncy-bouncy fun fun fun fun fun!) Because it delivers the facts of the time and does not glorify the deaths portrayed, as the more modern and despicable Faces of Death rip-offs do, I can recommend this film with a clean conscience.

Clocking in at just under 2 ½ hours, some people might find this film a bit too long. Just remember that Africa is a large continent. They have a lot of land to cover.

ALSO KNOWN AS: Africa Blood and Guts; Farewell Africa

Rated R
140 minutes
Italian, some English (with English subtitles)


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Amateur Art Showcase: Corpses, Part 2

...more old art from Bobby Gonzo. Be sure to check out the previous entry for more...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Freddy X Jason


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Genre News: Locke & Key On Your TV

According to Crave Online, Stephen Spielberg and a couple of the big shots from Fox's Fringe are teaming up to bring Joe Hill (AKA Son of Stephen King)'s comic book series Locke & Key to television screens.  Crave summarizes the storyline as such:
"The story centers on the Locke family following the brutal murder of their father. After the family moves to a mansion in Maine, the youngest of the Locke children discovers supernatural doorways to other worlds that ultimately endanger the entire family."
While I haven't read the comic books, I have read some of Hill's fiction, and this sounds like a project that I can definitely get behind.  Here's hoping it actually gets off the ground.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Silent Genre Films on TCM (08.24.10)

Turner Classic Movies is playing a marathon of silent films tomorrow, a few of which I thought you hipsters may be interested in. Give 'em a look-see.

7:00 AM: He Who Gets Slapped (1924)
In this silent film, a scientist flees his tragic past to become a circus clown.
Cast: Lon Chaney, Norma Shearer, John Gilbert, Tully Marshall Dir: Victor Seastrom BW-72 mins, TV-G

5:00 PM: Phantom of Paris, The (1931)
A magician is charged with killing his fiancee's father.
Cast: John Gilbert, Leila Hyams, Lewis Stone, Jean Hersholt Dir: John S. Robertson BW-74 mins, TV-PG

6:30 PM: Downstairs (1932)
An evil chauffeur seduces and blackmails his way through high society.
Cast: John Gilbert, Paul Lukas, Virginia Bruce, Hedda Hopper Dir: Monta Bell BW-78 mins, TV-G

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Horror Goodies at Urban Collector

I stumbled across a website this morning called Urban Collector, which featured a whole smörgåsbord of cool collectibles.  Here's a few that I thought you hipsters may be interested in.  Click on the name of the item for more information.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tim Burton Meets The Addams Family

Literally ripped from the headlines:
"Tim Burton has reunited with his Ed Wood screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski on a pair of projects. They will write The Addams Family, the stop-motion animated film that Burton and Chris Meledandri are producing for Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures."  --Deadline.Com
 Like the aforementioned Ed Wood, this sounds like a film that Tim Burton was born to make.  Now if he would make a stop-motion Scooby Doo, this little beatnik would be in hog heaven.

(read the full story here)


Sea of Dust (2008)

Sea of Dust

Written & Directed by Scott Bunt

Prester John...Tom Savini
Anna...Ingrid Pitt
Stefan Christoph...Troy Holland
Carla...Darby Lynn Totten

"For over 800 years, belief existed in a Christian super-king named Prestor John, who was said to dwell across a mythic Sea of Dust.  Explorers sought him, religions courted him, and crusaders waged war in his name...until one day, when Prestor John began to believe in himself."

Physician-in-training Stefan Christoph is traveling by carriage, having just been rejected and humiliated by his would-be father-in-law, when he stumbles upon the prone, unconscious form of Carla, a beautiful woman, blocking his path through the forest.  He revives her and takes her on as passenger, delivering her to the house of Dr. Maitland, with whom he is supposed to intern.  Once there, Stefan learns of a rather strange medical anomaly sweeping the local area:  the spontaneous explosions of human heads.

Yeah, I thought that might get your attention.  Don't get your shorts wet...we only get to see it once.

Townsfolk have also been falling into temporary trance-like states (much like Carla), and when they awaken they seem perfectly normal.  Well, almost normal...except for their tendency to attempt homicide by edged weapon.

It's all the work of the aforementioned Prestor John, of course, a myth-become-man who is carrying on the bloody work of the crusades.  Because, as one follower states, you can not understand Salvation without suffering.  Prestor wants you to know God's love, and he's more than willing to beat it into you.

I had low expectations going into this film.  The terrible cover art makes one expect yet another tedious vampire flick, and I've never been much for period pieces.  But Sea of Dust transcends first impressions by defying expectations.  Whereas most low-budget horror films are perfectly content with crappy video quality, a ten-dollar Halloween mask, and a storyline that has been on repeat since the 'Seventies, Sea of Dust instead uses solid set-pieces and believable costuming to deliver a flick that captures the feeling of old Hammer films.

When one thinks of religious horror, the mind immediately goes to The Exorcist and The Omen, but this is a whole different breed all together.  Like an unauthorized prequel to Left Behind, written by someone with more theological training than actual faith.  And if the concept isn't enough to entice you, how about the appearances of Tom Savini and Ingrid Pitt?

Still not enough?  Well, here's the clincher:

Where else are you going to see a man stabbed in the skull with a crucifix?

View the trailer below!

"Was that really necessary?  You poked a hole in me!"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Genre Film on TCM (08.19.10)

Better brew up a pot of coffee. Late tonight/early tomorrow morning Tuner Classic Movies is playing a wacky genre flick you'll probably want to stay up for.

2:45 AM: Forbidden Planet (1956)
A group of space troopers investigates the destruction of a colony on a remote planet.
Cast: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens Dir: Fred McLeod Wilcox C-99 mins, TV-PG

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tales of Woe by John Reed

Tales of Woe
by John Reed

Imagine, if you can, what it would be like if Chuck Palahniuk was paid to write the novelization of some as-yet-unreleased Mondo movie--Modern Mondo Cane perhaps; or Global Blood and Guts. A dark and deeply disturbing examination of injustice and misery the whole world over. That's a pretty fair assessment of the book Tales of Woe by John Reed.

Over the course of approximately 200 pages, this volume covers the gamut from the strange (a man caught fornicating with his favorite bicycle) to the sad (a UNICEF employee gunned down for unknown reasons); from the twisted (a lucha libre serial killer) to the terrible (a newborn's brain consumed by a baboon). Each true-life tale is different from the other except for one respect:

There are NO happy endings here.

In fact, this entire book is dreadfully depressing, and so it's a good thing that the stories within are kept short--bite-sized morbid morsels that can be taken one or two at a time, to leave you in a grey-blue funk for the remainder of the day.
WARNING: Exceeding the recommended dosage may be hazardous to your mental and emotional health.
The concept of a book with the power to depress you to dangerous extents is an odd one, and it begs the question: Who is the target audience here, anyway? This is especially confusing given the fact that this book is published by MTV Press, the publishing branch of the "music" channel that these days caters almost solely to spoiled attention-deficit tweens and an unimaginable and possibly-mythical audience that gets its rocks off watching the douchebaggery of The Hills and The Jersey Shore. Not quite the gothically disturbed sensibilities that Tales of Woe would seem to be aimed at.

The back cover blurb relates the experience of reading this to that of Greek Catharsis: by witnessing other people suffer, you feel better about your own life. I suppose there may be some validity to that, but schadenfreude (to switch cultural references) is such an unattractive trait, isn't it?

The titular tales are clearly and deftly expressed, and it's quite a handsome little package: a slightly-larger-than-paperback hardcover with white and red text printed on slick black paperstock, punctuated by occasional illustrations provided by some deeply-disturbed outsider minds.

Torn as I am about this book, I must admit that it did affect that must be saying something. I have a feeling that, much like my VHS copy of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Tales of Woe will have a long and lonely shelf life, leering at me and hungrily licking its lips, just daring me to partake in it again. And, just like with Henry, I will occasionally succumb, only to feel guilty and dirty in its wake.

Tales of Woe drops TODAY, so the interested should rush out to the local bookstore, or click here to order.

Woe is me.

Want a second opinion?  See what Enter the Man-Cave, From Midnight, With Love , and Dollar Bin Horror thought about the book.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Genre Film on Turner Classic Movies (08.15.10)

Just one single film of interest for genrephiles playing on Turner Classic Movies today:

2:00 PM: Canterville Ghost, The (1944)
A ghost who died a coward tries to inspire U.S. GIs to become heroes.
Cast: Charles Laughton, Robert Young, Margaret O'Brien, William Gargan Dir: Norman Z. McLeod BW-96 mins, TV-G

Friday, August 13, 2010

Genre Films on TCM (08.13.10)

A couple of interesting-sounding flicks playing on Turner Classic Movies tonight, for your viewing pleasure.

6:00 PM: Captain Nemo And The Underwater City (1969)
The infamous submarine captain rescues six shipwreck survivors.
Cast: Robert Ryan, Chuck Connors, Nanette Newman, John Turner Dir: James Hill C-106 mins, TV-G

8:00 PM: Boy With Green Hair, The (1948)
An orphaned boy mystically acquires green hair and a mission to end war.
Cast: Pat O'Brien, Robert Ryan, Barbara Hale, Dean Stockwell Dir: Joseph Losey C-82 mins, TV-G

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Drive-In Massacre (1977)

Drive In Massacre

Written by John F. Guff and George 'Buck' Flower
Directed by John F. Guff

Detective Mike Leary...John F. Guff
Detective John Koch...Bruce Kimball
Austin Johnson...Newton Naushaus
Germy...Douglas Gudbye

"On August 10 in a California Drive-In, it all began..."

Or so says the opening placard.

A young couple just beginning their life together wind up ending it together, too, when they're brutally dispatched by a mysterious killer wielding a sword during a viewing of a western at their local drive-in. One is decapitated, the other is gored through the neck, but with the prevalence of heavy petting and baby-making after the sun goes down, none of the other patrons saw a thing.

Two police officers, who both look like old school NFL announcers, are assigned to the case, which they kick off by interviewing the manager Austin Johnson (a grade-A "asshole"), the "half-wit" janitor Germy (a retired circus geek), and the pasty-faced Peeping Tom who frequents the joint. They're also interested in the owner, Mr. Von Nuysen, who lives in Hawaii but is said to have an impressive collection of swords.

Soon after, another couple is killed in a similar fashion. Then another. Then another, and well, you get the point.

While this could have been a worthwhile time-waster like much of the other sleazy 1970s drive-in fare, it turned out to be a bore of a crime drama without a hefty dose of crime. The acting was atrocious, the plotting was dreadful, and the special effects were exactly what you would expect from some guy known only as "The Duke of Disguise." While the movie only clocked in at 74 minutes long, it seemed about two hours too long, and the final 20 minutes were painfully padded with carnival footage and the characters meandering lost through a darkened warehouse. The whole backstory of the drive-in being built on the site of an old carnival, and staffed by former carnival employees, was pointless and tacked-on.

And it all boiled down to a gimmick ending that really doesn't pay off when watching it on home video.

For Buck Flowers completists only...I'm sure there are a few of you out there.

See what the other J has to say about this flick over at the Cheap Bin.

Rated R
74 Minutes
United States


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Movie Alert: Monsters

Some of you may have already heard about this, but I just received an e-mail notifying me of an upcoming genre film that I thought some of you may find of interest.  It's called Monsters, and comes from Magnolia Pictures.  Check out the synopsis:

Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon re-entry over Central America. Soon after, new life forms began to appear and grow. In an effort to stem the destruction that resulted, half of Mexico was quarantined as an INFECTED ZONE. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain the massive creatures... Our story begins when a jaded US journalist (McNairy) begrudgingly agrees to find his boss’ daughter, a shaken American tourist (Able) and escort her through the infected zone to the safety of the US border.
 It sounds like an action-oriented twist on District 9 to me...but hey, I'm up for that.


NeverWhere (1996)


Created and Produced by Dan Curtis

Written by Neil Gaiman & Lenny Henry
Directed by Dewi Humphreys

Gary Bakewell .... Richard Mayhew
Laura Fraser .... Door
Hywel Bennett .... Mr. Croup
Clive Russell .... Mr. Vandemaar
Paterson Joseph .... The Marquis De Carabas
Peter Capaldi .... The Angel Islington
Tanya Moodie .... Hunter
Amy Marston .... Anasthesia

NeverWhere was a September-October 1996 mini-series created by English author/madman Neil Gaiman (based on a book) for the BBC. It lasted for 6 episodes, each one running for 30 minutes. It has been released on a 2-disc DVD by A&E.

Richard is a bit of a clumsy businessman who stumbles upon an injured girl with the unusual name of “Door” in the streets. She refuses medical attention, so Richard takes her back to his place to recuperate. She's being pursued by two big bad Brits in big bad suits and Richard hides her without understanding what he's getting himself into. Soon enough, she's recovered from her injuries and calls upon an old friend to take her home.

After she's gone, Richard discovers that the rest of the world seems to have forgotten him and as a result is left with no money, no job and no place to live. Seeking answers, he sets out to find Door and finds himself lost in a subterranean world of myth and magic deep beneath the streets of London. Door offers no real answers but Richard accompanies her and her friends on a quest to avenge the death of her family.

Along the way we're introduced to a whole smattering of bizarre characters including a not-so-angelic angel, a minotaur-like beast stalking the sewers, some sort of “King of the Subway,” and a whole clan of crazy monks.

A relatively entertaining storyline once you get into it, but like most British programming it takes you a few minutes to get acclimated to the accents and subtle cinematic differences (not to mention the silly costumes and really, really bad teeth.) Ultimately it could have been summed up in half the time and would have found a better home as a “Made for TV Movie.”

Even if you're a fan of Gaiman's work, this doesn't necessarily belong on your “To-Buy” list. Still, it's worth a look, especially for fans of British television.

September-October 1996
30 minutes
United Kingdom


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Amateur Art Showcase: Corpses, Part 1

The other day I was going through my archives (fun fact: archive is Latin for "Boxes of crap"), when I stumbled across these drawings that an old friend of mine, Bobby Gonzo, had done. Obviously, the subject matter may have some appeal to my readers...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Genre Films on TCM (08.06.10)

There are a threesome of genre films starring Ingrid Bergman playing on Turner Classic Movies today that I thought you may want to check out. If you're a die-hard Ingrid Bergman fan, her films are playing all day long.

2:00 PM: Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1941)
A scientist's investigations into the nature of good and evil turn him into a murderous monster.
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, Donald Crisp Dir: Victor Fleming BW-113 mins, TV-PG

4:00 PM: Spellbound (1945)
A psychiatrist tries to help the man she loves solve a murder buried in his subconscious.
Cast: Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov, Leo G. Carroll Dir: Alfred Hitchcock BW-111 mins, TV-PG

3:30 AM: Gaslight (1944)
A newlywed fears she's going mad when strange things start happening at the family mansion.
Cast: Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, Dame May Whitty Dir: George Cukor BW-114 mins, TV-PG

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Jonny Goes To The Movies: Beast of Yucca Flats (Comic)

As readers of this blog may know, I have a soft spot in my heart for that terrible, terrible film The Beast of Yucca Flats.  (Click HERE to read my review of the movie).  Well, I must have a soft spot in my head, too, because I wasted a lot of time and energy over at today, creating The Official Unofficial Beast of Yucca Flats comic book.

That's right...comic book!  Scroll downward to read, and make with the clicky-clicky to enlarge the pics.

Oh, and before you complain that it doesn't make any sense or that the dialog is really bad, you should sit through the film.

If you dare.



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